Haze Multiplayer Hands-On

We dive into Free Radical Design's PS3-exclusive shooter to see if the multiplayer mode is ready to report for duty.

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Free Radical Design has always been known for creating games with well-balanced and ultimately addictive multiplayer modes, whether that's due to the founding staff's history at Rare, coding the likes of GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark for the Nintendo 64, or as its own entity, creating the popular TimeSplitters series. We recently caught up with Ubisoft and Free Radical at Sony's 3Rooms in central London to see how the multiplayer mode of their latest game, Haze, is shaping up.

The first map that we saw was called Swamp, which, as the name implies, is a dark, waterlogged marshland complete with a thick, low-lying fog, which makes visibility a challenge. You'll have to wade through the thick marshes (which could easily pass for Dagobah from The Empire Strikes Back), through reeds, and under fallen trees, all offering varying degrees of cover. If you're playing as a Mantel trooper, a quick dose of Nectar--thereby increasing the visibility of enemies--will make it easy to spot any would-be-camping rebel scum. Troopers are also reasonably visible due to the fluorescent yellow patches on their uniforms, which makes things slightly easier for the Promised Hand rebels.

The Swamp is the perfect map for rebels looking to ambush Mantel troopers.

We played a number of team deathmatch games in the dark and moody depths of the swamp. Each game had two teams: troopers and rebels. In case you haven't read our single-player hands-on--or our interview with the game's scriptwriter, Rob Yescombe--Haze is set in a future scenario in which nations' armies have been privatised. One such army is run by Mantel Global Industries, which is fighting a war in South America while running a pharmaceutical operation. To keep its troopers fighting in prime condition, it regularly doses them up with a drug known as Nectar. In addition to giving troops enhanced field-combat skills, the drug censors their perception of battle, resulting in a seemingly blood- and casualty-free war zone.

In the single-player campaign, you'll play firstly as a Mantel trooper and then as a Promised Hand rebel--experiencing the gruesome reality of war without a constant Nectar high. At first glance it seems as if the troopers have the upper hand in multiplayer, but the rebels aren't without their tricks. For one, they aren't weighed down with armour, which means that when playing as the rebel, you're able to pull off a quick sprint move. You'll also be able to make troopers overdose with a melee attack to their Nectar regulator, located between their shoulder blades. Overdosed troopers will go into a frenzy, firing at anything in sight--including their allies.

Given that troopers can't see dead bodies, rebels can also "play dead" via a quick button tap, although you can perform this move only when close to dying. It's not a foolproof tactic, either, given that you'll still be vulnerable to explosions whilst on the ground. You'll also be exposed when reviving yourself from your fake death; if you time it right, then you'll leap up in the nick of time, but if you get it wrong, then it will take you longer than normal to revive, rendering you exposed and vulnerable for a critical few seconds.

Rebels can also modify trooper weapons using Nectar: a knife can be laced with the drug, as can standard grenades, with overdose-inducing effects.

During our time with the game, it seemed that troopers were the flavour of the day, given the immediate benefits that Nectar held (including increased health, standard speed, aim, stronger melee attacks, and clearer vision). Despite this, Haze's creative director, Derek Littlewood, assured us that both sides are equally balanced in the game. From what he has observed, new players are keen to try out the troopers' immediate advantages from the start, but after playing the game for a while, they come to see the strengths of the rebels' unorthodox and improvised battlefield tricks. Despite our short time with the game, we could see the benefits of both sides.

The second scenario we played was a team assault on the Land Carrier map, which took place on the deck of an airborne aircraft carrier that was floating over dense jungle. This scenario can be won by either wiping out the opposing team if respawns are limited, or by achieving an objective. In this case, the rebel team was attempting to deactivate the base's defences by way of accessing a control panel high above the carrier's deck, whereas the troopers were tasked with holding them off until the timer ran out.

Aircraft, debris, and gaping holes in the deck, all need to be manoeuvred around, and there are also buggies that can be used, whether you prefer to mow down a few enemy troops or just get from one end of the long, narrow, map, to the other at speed. We didn't get to experience a full 24-player match, which is what the game should support at launch, but during our local network matches, the game held up nicely with no connection issues or lag.

Land Carrier offers some frantic, tightly packed mayhem for up to 24 players.

Each map is prefaced by a short video briefing, which serves to give an overview of the objectives and layout. We didn't get to see any evidence of it, but Free Radical has said that the single-player story will continue in the multiplayer mode (what they dubbed "episodic multiplayer"), and compared it to watching the deleted scenes from a DVD--adding extra information to the core story seen in the campaign. Although it remains to be seen how they'll include this in the final game, it sounds as if it could be a welcome addition.

Haze is looking to be a much-needed shot in the arm to the PlayStation's first-person shooter lineup, and one of the few exclusive third-party ones to date. From what we've seen in our previous coverage of the single-player and co-op mode, Haze aims to offer a unique storyline, plenty of white-knuckle action, and a variety of abilities when playing--first as a Mantel trooper, and then as a Promised Hand rebel.

During the course of the day, we also managed to see the single-player and cooperative modes. To find out more on our single-player and co-op impressions, see our previous coverage. Haze will descend on North America on May 20, and Europe on May 23.

Discussion

207 comments
megamaster32
megamaster32

IGNs review was horrible for this game i think this game is ok compared to some others

XxFAZExX
XxFAZExX

haze demo was bad have not played full game so im holding my jugement. also i think this was meant 2 be the halo killer but resistance already does that imo. and i have never played halo 2/3, the thing about the halo series is the the characters desings are really bad and i hate the story line in the first halo.imo.

Kolonel_Karnage
Kolonel_Karnage

It wasn't supposed to be a Halo killer, It was supposed to be a Crysis killer. I think the only thing this game was killing was it's self. I think Xbox 360 are gonna stay on the top until we get a new next-gen console.

ctburesch
ctburesch

This was the supposed Halo killer? The Sony team must get to work. Now I like Halo but it was a severe disappointment the 3rd time around, but that installment was MUCH better than this crap game. bigc072005. I own all three systems and have to say that most xbox 360 games that I have played are ranked better than the PS3 games simply because the PS games are crap. Get your head out of your @#*

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

What gets to me is that Devs have always Moaned & Groaned about having the available technology which allows them to fully bring their ideas to life and provide us Gamers with with the "Ultimate gaming experience", now they have that technology and what do they give us? Another Sub-Parr FPS!! Now i dont own a PS3 (dont flame me) but completely empathise with you guys, i just find this totally rediculous. Technology gets better & better, unfortunately Dev's dont!!

n3ck
n3ck

Hardly makes difference between 4.5 and 6, for me Haze is poor, how poor it is doesn't really matter. Haze is rubbish, the demo was so bad it was funny, and this is nothing like Halo at all.

bigc072005
bigc072005

yea gamespot better give a better score then that biased ass site IGN....i swear ign gives every ps3 game a crap score and every 360 game a good one...i have both consoles again...ign gave haze a 4.5 when its campaign is just as good as gay halo 3's yet halo still gets a 9.5......wow good job for hiring biased people to review games...this is why i dont listen to reviewers....they are sucking off one company more then the other

Paul2005
Paul2005

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

kee101
kee101

this game looks awsome! i think multiplayer will be the biggest commponent of this game. vehicles look sweet and co-op story also looks pretty cool but I played the demo and I daminated. It wasint very fun for the other.

OminousShadow87
OminousShadow87

Played the demo. Long ass download and wait for another run of the mill, uninspiring, and mediocre shooter, IMHO.

jacobmjl
jacobmjl

hmmm.........some sort of external suit in futuristic setting, in jungles. Sounds like crysis to me

Desode
Desode

I will be waiting to see if its 24 players online or 16 . If its 16 then it will most likly be hosting (ps3 to ps3) and that just plain sucks. I'm going to start not buying game that don't use servers. No matter how well they cover up the lag , its still there and the host gets the advantage. Just like cod4 , I love COD4 but just watch the kill cam and you know what I'm talking about ,plus once you find yourself hosting you can go 32 and 6 all night long. Pc gamers pay $20 less per game then console gamers and they always get dedicated servers ! Its just flat out wrong that we pay way more money and keep getting screwed most of the time on consoles. Its time console gamers start standing up for getting their moneys worth and boycotting games that don't give us what we deserve ! REAL SERVERS !!! Desode

peetowser
peetowser

I can't wait to try the follow-up to TimeKillers, but I'm not getting my hopes too high because IMO you need more than 4 players online to have a real fun mess... ...Don't cha just love those ignorant halo fanboys saying this game looks exactly like halo for PS3... like halo was even out when those guys started making FPS with GoldenEye back on the N64... I guess you kids lived well protected from the great shooters of the 90s...halo was a nice fps but look at those guys' resume, they didn't start ONE fps serie and kept cashing on it, they started THREE series, each of them unique and a lot of fun, so now get over halo and stop looking at every new game like it is the bastardization of some XBox title that came out. Either that or show me the document that says Microsoft invented FPSs and Bungee own exclusive rights to produce them lol. Course verifying your allegations before hatching them for the whole community to hear would also be advisable. That sure would add a shred of credibility to your opinions.

jjmc3
jjmc3

Looks extremely fun. I played the demo (from the PS Store) and it was very fun. The game somehow reminds me of Halo, but that might just be me, but either way this game is going to be awsome!

Kirby-fu-
Kirby-fu-

Looks awesome. finally a big online game for the PS3. much needed. In a way I think it'll be like the PS3's Halo because it'll have a great online also...I hope.

Vrygar777
Vrygar777

I dont own a PS3 but I can say that this is gonna be a good game, but still be overlooked by some people. The looming shadow of MGS4 and Killzone 2 might make people reconsider this. I'd say that this game will probably sell well nevertheless but I personally think people might go for Battlefield: Bad Company or Enemy territory: Quake wars before they decide to purchase this.

dingdongdanman
dingdongdanman

played demo was well dissapionted as i was lookin foward to it

Horizord
Horizord

I don't get the halo comparisons, either. It looks nothing like halo 3, and the gameplay is very different

jawshoeuh
jawshoeuh

i don't get the halo comparisons. ... what exactly makes this anything like halo? anyway. i can't wait to get home to play the new demo today! i love free radical's stuff.

Dethecus
Dethecus

"Stim packs" from Starcraft. 'Nuff said.

MetalMan300
MetalMan300

Yeah this does look exactly like a PS3 version of halo, but at least sony owners will get a fun sci-fi FPS. At least it'll be better than killzone 2. Thats gonna be terrible.

NibbleZ_Killa
NibbleZ_Killa

i didnt really like GOW2 i hope this game is better with a better story line one that i can really believe and get in to

skee_uk
skee_uk

tried the demo, its great. 4 player co-op is as smooth as single player its like halo3 in a way with a lower resolution upscaled, but haze still looks the part, i dont know why ppl are moaning at haze visuals, its great and on ps3:)

heartbreakkid84
heartbreakkid84

i dnt kno y...but to me...this game looks exactly like a ps3 version of halo 3. Am I the only one that sees the connection?

worthlessdude66
worthlessdude66

i'm definitely getting this just can't wait for my dose of nectar

dylan9999
dylan9999

This looks good i Hope it will be as good as it looks. I loved timesplitters so this should be good.

n3ck
n3ck

The Only thing that makes this game stand out from the hundreds of shooters out already is that this is an exclusive to the PS3, therefore its got to be the greatest game ever.......Ehem!

Paul2005
Paul2005

MAN this game looks so sweet might be the best game ever. This will help the ps3 alot and killzone 2 might not be better!

kinkel05
kinkel05

Looks really promising ... maybe even to the level of Gears of war

ninjasam
ninjasam

Its not going to be on the 360.It's an exclusive. PC and 360 versions were cancled

imrlybord7
imrlybord7

Hope it comes out on 360 /puts up flame shield

jogunther
jogunther

I"m giving it a go. I played hundreds of hours of, Timesplitters 2. If you are a Sony fan, you should pay attention.

BlackMage009
BlackMage009

I agree with romaf06, atleast PS3 fans have MGO to look forward to....I have the beta and its awsome

romaf06
romaf06

halo multiplayer clone anyone?? this game looked like sucha generic fps from the get-go...LAME

Lamb0fFilth
Lamb0fFilth

i think sadly GTA will overshadow this :(

Panman_Dan
Panman_Dan

@ zunit88 Hardly does it look like Halo. I guess anymore anything with guns and futuristic settings must be a Halo rip-off... And hey, who can't agree with this statement.

goolevski
goolevski

Im waiting for this game. I will buy it. you got my money ubi soft

bensmizzle
bensmizzle

if this game came out wen it was sposed to that wouldve been cool but now theres just too many other good game coming out and i reckon their sales would be way less, ubisoft botched this big time

Lunatic4u
Lunatic4u

Somehow this game doesnt attract me...

pause422
pause422

Yeah,if you guys don't have Gamefly yet i'd recommend it,unless you have a decent game rental place nearby,its a great easy and fast service,and with Haze and plenty of other games that look promising or at least interesting,its better then never trying them at all,or wasting 60 bucks on something you may not want.

glitzy69
glitzy69

Looks like it could be interesting, but I'll play it before I take the developer's word that each side is balanced compared to the other. Always hated one-sided games unless it was specifically playing with RL friends, or fighting games. Having some imbalance can be good though, considering how well Counter-Strike and the late-game Onslaught matches for ut2k4 worked out. Glad I can play this at a friend's house instead of making a 500$+ gaming expiriment. We'll probably end up playing rock band anyway on the ps3, haha.

pause422
pause422

Where did anything say this was competing with Halo3? I swear the way you people insert things is so odd sometimes...and moreso its competing with Cod4 (if you want to claim its competing against anything,let alone not being released yet) because atm cod4 is the top played mp game above halo3.

zunit88
zunit88

competing with HALO3...nice ill try it

pause422
pause422

I'd kinda like to know what has a framerate problem,if you could tell me on the PS3,I honestly don't know.Not including just the early 2006 360 ports.

toms_85
toms_85

not to down the ps3, but this is the first title that looks like it is worth playing, everything else seems to have either a frame rate problem or is just flat out disapointing

vufor
vufor

he possibly sad bstrd hat what it is.

pause422
pause422

Congrats on that thought then,but no one needs to know it.